Survival games are a diverse genre. While there are certainly some lukewarm fans, most people either love or hate this type of gaming experience. The mixed reactions come from the features that define these titles. Huge open worlds, little direction, lack of a true goal, logical crafting, hard-to-find resources, and most importantly, the risk that you could lose it all isn’t appealing to everyone. Others love the rush it provides, though.
Fortunately for fans of this genre, there’s more and more innovation in this style, so now there are hybrid versions that try to take what’s best about survival games and graft it onto other game styles. With the variety in this genre, players who have the Xbox Game Pass have access to some great survival games, including a few of the best.
Updated August 26, 2022 By Ben Jessey: Xbox Game Pass includes all different types of survival games, from open-world sandbox ones to more horror-focused titles. So, the subscription service caters to all fans of the genre. In the previous version of this list, we included a bunch of the best ones Game Pass had to offer.
However, it’s a service that is continually being updated, meaning great titles are coming and going. Thankfully, we haven’t lost any classic survival titles recently. But we did want to add a few that were previously overlooked.
16 Aliens: Fireteam Elite
There has been a litany of games based on the Alien movie series, and they vary heavily in quality. However, Aliens: Fireteam Elite is on the good side of the scale as it’s an enjoyable cooperative third-person shooter.
It’s not the sort of survival game where you have to manage your hunger or thirst. Instead, you must survive by avoiding getting killed by the countless number of xenomorphs you face, as well as a few other enemies. If you’ve ever seen the Alien movies, that sounds problematic. But each class of solider has the means to protect themselves, especially if they work well with their teammates.
15 Dead By Daylight
Whether or not Dead By Daylight is a survival game depends on what team you’re on. After all, this is an asymmetric multiplayer game where one person plays as the killer while everyone else controls the survivors.
As their name suggests, the role of the killer is to go around murdering everyone. If they all die, the killer wins. As the survivors, your goal is to open up the exit or find another way to escape. It is essentially an extremely violent game of cat and mouse.
14 This War Of Mine: Final Cut
This is a unique war-themed game because you don’t play as a soldier on the front lines or a member of a special ops team. Instead, you control a group of civilians who are trying to survive during this difficult time.
They’re all hiding inside a damaged building, hoping to avoid the conflict. You must keep them safe by maintaining their hunger and health while keeping their mood as high as possible. To do that, you need to use any items and materials you can find.
13 7 Days To Die
There are many ways to perish in 7 Days To Die, such as through starvation or dying of thirst. Not to mention, multiple things can make your downfall quicker, like harsh weather, dysentery, and injury.
However, the biggest threat to your health in this title is, of course, the zombies. These monsters continually roam the game’s open world and will attack you on sight. To make matters worse, they get stronger with each passing day. But you can craft bases to hide in and tools to help defend yourself. Plus, you can bring in some friends to help out as the game supports multiplayer.
12 The Long Dark
In the Long Dark, you must survive the harsh Canadian wilderness. So, that means with standing freezing temperatures and plenty of wolf attacks. On top of that, you must try to avoid starving to death. These things are present in both the story mode and the separate sandbox survival mode.
Speaking of the story, it’s a surprising well-told multi-episode narrative. The plot isn’t usually the focus of these types of games, but this one is compelling, particularly due to the stellar voice-acting and beautiful art style. As for the sandbox mode, it provides more of a traditional survival game experience.
11 Conan Exiles
As you may expect from its title, Conan Exiles takes place in the Conan The Barbarian world. You don’t play as the titular character, though. Instead, you control an exile who begins with nothing.
You must use what resources you can gather to avoid dying of hunger or thirst. To make matters worse, the open world is filled with dangerous creatures that will kill you if they get the chance. Plus, if you’re playing on an online server, you also have to watch out for bloodthirsty players. So, there are dangers all around, which is what you expect with a survival game.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be the size of an ant? Well, this early access title helps feed that curiosity. You play as a shrunken human who must survive in a backyard that contains plenty of bugs and other creatures. They all share their own purpose, with some being more useful than others.
The spiders, for instance, are definitely not helpful as their goal is to kill you. And if you aren’t fond of spiders, don’t worry, as the game includes an Arachnophobia Safe Mode, where you can change how the creatures look. While dealing with those beasts, you have to eat and drink to stay alive.
9 No Man’s Sky
It’s fair to say that No Man’s Sky had a difficult launch. But after several updates, the game has become a more polished and engrossing adventure. In it, you get the freedom to explore a bunch of procedurally generated planets, where you find materials that help you build up your gear.
However, it’s not as peaceful as it sounds, as these planets aren’t all devoid of life. There’s usually something around that’s trying to kill you. And you must use your wits and whatever equipment you have to survive the attacks while making the planet as habitable as possible.
Frostpunk differs from many other games in the genre because you’re not just looking after yourself or a small team. Instead, you have to manage an entire city of people whose world has been destroyed due to global cooling.
Along with being a survival game, it’s a city simulator where you have to manage resources and your people. In the process, you must make some difficult judgment calls that aren’t always going to make you well-liked among the population. But sometimes, the unpopular choice will help keep people alive in the long run.
While Minecraft is certainly not the first entry into the genre, it led the charge for the current generation of survival games. Here you have all the elements you expect of this sort of title in their strongest, blockiest form. With no real goal, and virtually unlimited space and resources, you can build whatever you want, assuming you can survive the hazards of wandering mobs, including the iconic creepers.
Many a Minecraft player gets trauma flashbacks at the sound of sizzling bacon thanks to those stealthy, exploding beasts. The game has limitations, but it’s still amusing, and especially good for family time with your little crafters.
Terraria grew directly out of the excitement for Minecraft, and it makes some similar concessions in terms of a universe made of blocks. However, Terraria limits the world significantly by making it a two-dimensional setup.
It makes up for this limitation by giving you an even wider array of monsters to fight. There are a number of epic bosses, and powerful waves of outrageous enemies you can summon by crafting magic items. There are also plenty of well-developed NPCs that you can trade with. They also sometimes give you scraps of information and quests. Another very fun one for family play.
5 Outer Wilds
Like many newer survival games, Outer Wilds blends the basic survival aspects with a focused plot and goal: you only have 22 minutes to survive before the star goes supernova, killing everyone. Don’t worry, that’s plenty of time to die in any number of ways: crashing your spaceship, running out of air, or being eaten by dangerous beasts on the planet or out in space.
As with most time loop games, you’ll die a lot (at least every 22 minutes!), but at least you get the reward of one of the most enjoyable death sequences: your (brief) life will replay before your eyes.
Astroneer is a very pure survival game. With neither time limits nor set goals, you wander the worlds of your solar system, collecting resources that enable you to research and build ever more complex technologies.
While there are no animals in this game, only plants, that doesn’t mean you’re free from threats. Not only can the flora kill you with poison, explosions, and impaling spines, but it’s easy to get lost, especially if you wander into caves. And a missing Astroneer usually runs out of air and dies.
3 State of Decay 2
State of Decay 2 is a post-apocalyptic zombie horror survival game. What makes it different from many others is that you are not a lone survivor. Instead, you have to work together with other people who have managed to avoid being eaten by the undead (not other players, but NPCs in the game). You must utilize their skills and build your own base to hold against the onslaught of the wandering zombie hordes.
This game can be bloody, but it’s bloody fun, too. And the team-based ethos gives this game an uplifting core that contrasts sharply with the gruesome setting and grueling challenges.
2 Ark: Survival Evolved
Ark’s subtitle is not just a sales conceit, it’s a true description of what this game did to the survival genre. Plopped down nearly naked in a world full of dinosaurs, it’s really hard to hold your own. Dilophosaurs may be small, but they are vicious, and you’ll die many times before you learn how to craft the weapons and tools necessary to fend them off.
As you gain in skills, though, the challenge makes this game very satisfying when you start learning to make shelters, transportation, and, especially train dinosaurs. You can really rule the land from the back of a Baryonyx.
In Subnautica, you spend most of your time in a 3D world that forces you to rethink the concepts of navigation and threat assessment. Not only are you in a deadly ocean, but it’s also an alien one. And this underwater deathtrap is full of many things looking to eat you alive.
The game adds enough story elements that define an overall goal. But it’s the survival elements that really make this game exciting. The terror of being hunted, the thrill of victory, and the satisfaction of creating something worthwhile are the most enjoyable aspects of the adventure.
NEXT: Games For Fans Of ARK: Survival Evolved